Death of a Family Member Checklist

Losing a loved one can be a difficult experience. Yet, during this time, you must complete a variety of tasks and make important financial decisions. You may need to make final arrangements, notify various businesses and government agencies, settle the individual’s estate, and provide for your own financial security. The following death of a family member checklist may help guide you through the matters that must be attended to upon the death of a family member.

Note: Some of the following tasks may have to be completed by the estate’s executor.

If your loved one was a veteran, you may be eligible for burial and memorial benefits. Call 1-800-827-1000 to find the nearest VA regional office.
Duplicate copies of marriage and birth certificates are available at the county clerk’s office where the marriage and births occurred. Veterans and the next of kin of deceased veterans can submit an online request for separation documents and other service personnel records via eVetRecs, a service available through the National Archives at
If there is no one authorized to open the decedent’s safe-deposit box, petition the probate court for an order to open.
Do not be hasty when settling your loved one’s estate. Important decisions need to be made regarding distributions, which must be made in compliance with the will and applicable laws. Seek an experienced estate planning attorney for advice.
If your family member didn’t already make final arrangements or leave final instructions, go to for some helpful information about funerals, burials, and memorial services.